The city's history as an urban settlement began in the 11th century, after the triumphal arrival of Roger d 'Altavilla – in Old French, Jarl Roger de Hauteville – the grand comte who had driven the Saracens out of Sicily. Today, the event is re-enacted in the annual Palio dei Normanni, one of the first events of its kind to originate in southern Italy: the spectacular, medieval-style festivities, with hundreds of costumed figures, are held over three days in mid-August.
The historical domination following the Norman era left its mark in the city with the imposing four-sided bulk and massive angular towers of the Aragonese castle, built in the late 14th century. Architectural activity became to increase around three centuries later, with the construction and renovation of churches, monastic complexes and civil buildings: St. Peter's with its precious coffered ceiling, the City Palace with its wrought-iron balconies, St Rocco with its beautiful sculpted portal, and the almost twin churches of St Ignatius and St Anne, with their monumental façades. From the top of the hill, an upland of the Erei Mountains, the Cathedral dominates the entire town. It too is a 17th-century reconstruction, although the Gothic-Catalan structure of the bell tower of the previous church can still be seen.
Visit Palazzo Trigona City and Territorial Museum, part of the cultural exhibition system that includes the UNESCO site for which Piazza Armerina is world famous: the nearby Villa Romana del Casale. Curiosity for archaeology should not, however, cancel out that for nature: not far away, to the north, is the Floristella Grottacalda Mining Park.